News Briefs 23 August 2019

Democratic Republic of Congo

Displaced by DR Congo violence, survivors’ testimonies highlight brutality of armed militia

Briefing journalists in Geneva, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Spokesperson Babar Baloch, said that staff had heard numerous testimonies from people whose family members had been killed in Ituri province.

Severe underfunding for aid work and insecurity involving the Hema and Lendu groups have meant that increasing numbers are vulnerable and unable even to go home to pick up essentials, he added.

“These people are not even able to return,” Mr. Baloch said. “Many of them have reported people who have tried – or relatives who have tried – to return to their villages and to their homes have been reportedly attacked and killed.”

UN News

Ebola outbreak spreads to remote, militia-controlled territory in Democratic Republic of Congo

A new case of Ebola has popped up in a remote, militia-controlled area in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, hundreds of miles away from the epicenter of the yearlong outbreak.

The patient is a 70-year-old woman living in Pinga, a rural village located in Walikale territory in North Kivu province, according to a recent statement from the technical committee running the country’s Ebola response and reporting directly to the president. The woman has been hospitalized in Pinga since Aug. 13 and was placed in isolation on Aug. 15. Her blood samples were sent to a laboratory in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, and came back positive for Ebola virus disease on Aug. 17.

A rapid response team was dispatched on Sunday and travelled by road, reaching Pinga a day later. A helicopter team also arrived at the village Monday, according the technical committee, which described Pinga as an “area of insecurity and poor telephone network coverage.”

ABC News


Somalia security remains a concern, head of UN Mission warns Security Council

Despite “encouraging” developments, insecurity across Somalia remains a serious concern, James Swan, head of the UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), warned the Security Council, in his first briefing to the world body since taking office.

Mr. Swan noted the effectiveness of the collaboration between the UN and international partners, and the Somali Security Forces working with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which has seen areas near the capital Mogadishu taken back from terror group al-Shabab, and stabilized.

However, Mr. Swan noted that terrorism remains a threat to progress, citing the deadly al-Shabab attack on the offices of the mayor of Mogadishu in July, which killed and injured several Government officials.

Looking ahead to the crucial 2020 election cycle, Mr. Swan described the upcoming poll as an opportunity to advance democracy in the country, noting that preparations for the one-person-one-vote poll, including a draft electoral law, are underway. He called for the empowerment of women to be a central feature of the political process and encouraged the Federal Government to establish a task force, to ensure election security.

UN News

Somalia’s Jubaland region re-elects Ahmed Mohamed as president

Somalia’s southern state of Jubaland has re-elected Ahmed “Madobe” Mohamed Islam as its leader following a disputed poll.

Ahmed defeated three other candidates in a vote cast by the semi-autonomous region’s lawmakers in the port city of Kismayu on Thursday.

The former rebel leader won 56 of the 74 votes cast. Anab Mohamed Dahir, his closest challenger and the only female candidate, won 17 votes, according to the results announced by the regional electoral body.

The poll was delayed by three days, with the regional electoral body saying it was to allow candidates more time to register.


Central African Republic

Central African Republic peace deal – violated and fragile

Six months after armed CAR rebels signed a peace deal with the government, some have flagrantly violated it, experts say, as citizens wonder why the warlords even have seats at the top table.

The latest findings of a panel of experts submitted to the African Union and United Nations, point to a fragile peace, with dozens of violations reported weekly since the Khartoum Agreement came into effect on 6 February 2019.

The experts pinned the blame for the worst violation on the Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation group (or 3R), led by the notorious Sidiki Abbas. The rebel leader signed the peace deal and is now an advisor to the CAR prime minister.


Central African Republic sees sharp decline in violence

Central African Republic may be getting safer, according to new figures from the United Nations that show a sharp drop in the number of attacks and human rights abuses since last year.

The head of human rights for the U.N. mission in the country said a peace deal between the government and 14 armed groups in February appeared to have allowed for a relative respite, but was hesitant to declare it a success.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission, called MINUSCA, recorded 565 incidents of abuse or human rights violations from January through June, compared to 1,674 in the same period of 2018 and 1,097 the year before.

These include rapes, attacks and the recruitment of children to armed groups. Of 1,082 victims, 403 were women and children.



Sudan’s new prime minister vows to rebuild battered economy

Sudan’s new prime minister has vowed to make peace with the country’s rebel factions and rebuild its battered economy as he seeks to bring an end to the uncertainty that followed the military overthrow of dictator Omar al-Bashir in April after months of anti-government protests.

Abdalla Hamdok, a respected former official of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, was sworn in on Wednesday under a transitional agreement that will see the military share power with civilian administrators until elections are held in three years’ time.

“The government’s top priorities are to stop the war, build sustainable peace, address the severe economic crisis and build a balanced foreign policy,” he said.

Financial Times

Sudan’s Omar al Bashir faces court reckoning

Thirty years after seizing power in a military coup and four months after widespread protests forced him from office, Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, once one of the most notorious leaders on the African continent, this week appeared in court.

He appeared not at the International Criminal Court that charged him with genocide in 2010 for trying to wipe out non-Arab ethnic groups in Darfur, but in the east African country he has dominated for the past three decades.

Dressed in immaculate white robes, Mr Bashir sat in a black metal cage as prosecutors and investigators described the corruption charges against him. The former president, who is expected to plead not guilty, spoke only to confirm his name, his age and his residence — Khartoum’s Kober prison.

Financial Times

South Sudan

South Sudan Activists Ramp Up Pressure for Unity Government

South Sudan activists on Monday began a campaign to pressure the country’s warring parties to meet a fast-approaching deadline to form a unity government as part of their 2018 peace agreement.

The Civil Society Forum, a coalition of more than 100 organisations, on Monday marked the beginning of a 90-day countdown to the November deadline for the ruling party and opposition to form a government.

“We have not got much time left. There are a lot of tasks that need to be accomplished and business should not remain as usual,” Geoffrey Lou Duke, a member of the coalition, told AFP.


Africa bloc meets to up South Sudan peace process

The international community has appealed to South Sudan to expedite the implementation of a 2018 peace deal, with only three months remaining before the pre-transition period to form a government end.

The appeal was made during a consultative meeting that began in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Wednesday on the status of implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) — a deal that gave a new lease of life to a 2015 agreement that failed.

Based on the agreement, which was signed in Addis Ababa in September 2018 under the mediation of East Africa’s 8-nation trading and security bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the South Sudanese government and opposition should have formed a transitional government in May leading to elections in 30 months.


Western Sahara

Polisario’s Representative in Australia: “maintaining status quo in Western Sahara is dangerous for the region, costly for the UN and the US”

Polisario Front’s Representative to Australia and New Zealand, Mr. Kamal Fadel, considered in an opinion published yesterday on the Wall Street Journal, that maintaining the status quo in Western Sahara, as Morocco wishes, is dangerous to the region and costly to the UN and the US and the international community at large.

Answering Dion Nissenbaum’s article and video package on Western Sahara (“Dormant War Draws U.S. Spotlight,” published last August 12th on Wall Street Journal, Kamal drew the attention that “reading the article one might think that maintaining the status quo was the best option available for the question of Western Sahara. This is an idea that Morocco has been tirelessly lobbying for but it’s a dangerous option not only for Western Sahara but for the whole region. It’s also a costly one for the UN and for that matter the USA.”

He warned that “the patience of the Saharawi people is running out,” recalling that “Morocco has failed to win the hearts and minds of Saharawis during 44 years of occupation.”

Sahara Press Service

39th SADC Summit: Namibian President asserts Western Sahara is decolonization issue

Namibian President and former Chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Mr. Hage Geingob, affirmed in his speech at the opening session of the 39th SADC Summit in Tanzania that the issue of Western Sahara is a decolonization issue and the right of self-determination of the Sahrawi people.

The Namibian President affirmed the SADC’s firm stance on the Sahrawi issue, recalling that the group organized last March in South Africa a conference in solidarity with the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, and thanked the President of South Africa for hosting this conference.

The 39th Summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) held in the Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam started on Saturday. It will continue until Monday, during which Tanzanian President, Mr. John Magufuli, will assume the rotating presidency of the SADC. (SPS)

Sahara Press Service


Swaziland Chief Justice Says Kingdom Under Siege By ‘Treasonous’ Political Elites

The Chief Justice of Swaziland / eSwatini Bheki Maphalala said the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) was under siege from a political elite that he called ‘treasonous’.

He said it was so powerful it had taken the constitutional powers of key institutions of state.

It was undermining and interfering with the constitutional mandate of the JSC, he said. The judges of the superior courts (Supreme and High Courts) and the specialist tribunals are appointed by the King on the advice of the JSC and magistrates are appointed by the JSC.

Swaziland is not a democracy and is ruled by King Mswati III as an absolute monarch. The King appoints the Chief Justice and all members of the JSC. The Chief Justice also chairs the JSC. The Swazi Constitution of 2005 confirms the King’s position as absolute monarch.



OPINION: Repression and dialogue in Zimbabwe: twin strategies that aren’t working

Emmerson Mnangagwa’s strategy of coercion and dialogue has hit a series of hurdles. These include the continued opposition by the MDC and on-going scepticism of international players about the regime’s so-called reformist narrative, writes Brian Raftopoulos.

Since the November 2017 coup that toppled Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe and the elections in 2018, the regime of President Emmerson Mnangagwa has forged two forms of rule. These have been based on coercion on the one hand, and on the other dialogue.

Following the 2018 general elections and the violence that marked its aftermath, the Mnangagwa regime once again resorted to coercion in the face of the protests in January 2019. The protests were in response to the deepening economic crisis in the country, and part of the opposition strategy to contest the legitimacy of the government.


Zimbabwe arrests senior opposition official over protest

Police in Zimbabwe arrested a senior opposition official on Thursday on charges of failing to stop a banned protest last week in the capital, his lawyer said.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which accuses President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government of repression and economic mismanagement, called a demonstration last Friday as the start of a nationwide protest movement but it was banned by the police.

But some opposition supporters still turned up for the protest and were subsequently dispersed by police who used batons, teargas and water cannon.


Africa in General

Zimbabwe govt denies involvement in latest wave of abductions

Government is unaware of any cases of abductions despite the numerous claims from prodemocracy groups as well as the opposition, Home Affairs minister Cain Mathema said Thursday.

Numerous opposition activists have reportedly been abducted, tortured and left for dead the latest being comedian Samantha Kureya popularly known as Gonyeti who late Wednesday was seized by armed men and later dumped in Harare’s north western suburbs.

In an interview with the media, Mathema denied any knowledge or receiving reports of these abductions.

“I do not know what you are talking about! I do not know what you are talking about! You want me to react to something that I am hearing from you.

Zimbabwe Mail

Kenya wins AU endorsement for UN Security Council seat

Kenya has been given the African Union’s (AU) endorsement for a UN Security Council (UNSC) seat after Nairobi defeated Djibouti with 37 votes to 13 during a vote at AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

Wednesday’s voting was the second round after Kenya initially got 34, Djibouti 15, with two abstentions during the first round.

Kenya originally defeated Djibouti with 33 votes on August 5 while there were 16 abstentions.

However, rules of procedure which require that substantial decisions be made on a two-thirds majority rule calculated on the basis of the total 55 member states of the AU, meant Nairobi had fallen short, the East African reported.


Mozambique’s Renamo says members attacked after peace deal

Mozambique’s former rebel group-turned-opposition party Renamo on Friday said its members came under attack just days after the signing of a historic peace deal aimed at ending years of conflict.

Renamo spokesperson Jose Manteigas said dozens of party members have been assaulted by police and members of the ruling Frelimo party across the country, adding that the attacks could threaten the landmark peace agreement.

He said Renamo members have been beaten and their houses and other properties torched in the provinces of Tete, Zambezia, Inhambane and Gaza, mainly in night-time attacks since August 8.

That was just two days after the much-hailed and long-awaited peace deal was signed by President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Ossufo Momade on August 6.